Once upon a time, taking a cruise was simply a means of island-hopping around the Caribbean. Today, however, cruising offers so much more than that one kind of getaway. In fact, many top cruise lines now offer itineraries to far-flung and exotic destinations like the French Riviera, the Amazon, and Africa. There are other advatnages, too: Cruising is one of the most cost-effective ways to travel to hard-to-reach locations and a great way to check off several places on your bucket list in one trip.
In recent years, high-end cruise lines have upped the industry standards with extravagant new vessels, drool-worthy destinations, and more authentic port excursions than ever before. Simply put, there's never been a better time to take a cruise. Not convinced? Here are seven reasons that prove our point.
1. You Get More Bang For Your Buck
Cruising offers great value for vacationers because everything is consolidated into one price: accommodations, transportation, and meals—some packages even include airfare. And the all-inclusive nature of most cruises gives you an unbeatable deal, especially for families. You can have peace of mind and avoid worrying about what your vacation will cost at the end of the trip. Those looking for a little extra luxury always have the option to upgrade; for an additional cost, guests can eat in fine-dining restaurants, purchase top-shelf liquor packages, and purchase deluxe excursions in every port.
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Azamara Club Cruises offers some of the best value in the industry. All guests receive complimentary bottled water, standard spirits (unlimited premium drink packages can be purchased for only $12.95 per person/per day), specialty coffees, sodas, and self-service laundry. Azamara also includes one “AzAmazing Evening” each cruise, which is a complimentary excursion for all passengers to encourage destination immersion. For a just a bit more, Regent Seven Seas Cruises also offers great value. Pricing includes airfare, ground transfers, shore excursions, specialty dining, unlimited beverages (including fine wines and premium spirits), and free, unlimited WiFi, so there are really no hidden costs.
2. You Can Begin Relaxing As Soon As You Book
Planning a vacation itinerary can be an additional source of stress. Cruising takes the guesswork out of the planning process—all you have to do is choose a cruise itinerary and which cabin you want and you’re off! Cruises offer guests agendas and tours that have been thoroughly prepared by experts, meaning you don’t have to spend hours researching what to do.
3. You Only Need to Unpack Once
Forget lugging your suitcases through train stations and along cobblestone streets—on a cruise your stuff stays put, and all you have to worry about is what to wear. Cruising gives you a chance to truly turn your mind off—no unpacking and repacking as you coordinate travel between cities.
4. You're Making the Most of Your Vacation Time
In today’s economy, most of us have limited vacation time. Cruising helps maximize the time you spend actually vacationing. Instead of stressing about trains, planes, and automobiles, you can unwind on the ship as you’re carried off to the next destination in style. No missed connections, delays, or transportation woes, ensuring that you arrive at your destination rested and ready to enjoy.
5. You Can Experience the Destinations
Travelers today seek authentic destination immersion—no one wants to feel like they only visited the “touristy” spots. While cruising in the past focused on flashy on-board amenities, today’s modern traveler is more concerned with what to see when leaving the ship. If you choose the right cruise line, you can indeed experience authenticity.
For families, Disney Cruises offers unforgettable excursions with an emphasis on unique experiences. Disney’s “Port Adventures” allow guests to experience the magic each port has to offer, while catering to all ages. Azamara Club Cruises cater to a sophisticated, adult clientele who seek to maximize time exploring off the ship. Azamara offers classic shore excursions, called Land Discoveries, led by the world’s top tour providers, and Insider Access programs, which are small group experiences designed to provide cultural encounters in intimate settings. Azamara also offers overnight stays at ports of call and expertly curated tours that are best experienced at night—think guided walks around illuminated landmarks or an after-hours visit to a famous museum. Oceania Cruises also offers many overnight stays and late departures, allowing guests to experience each stop to its fullest.
6. You Can Go Exotic Without a Worry
Cruising is one of the easiest ways to see exotic foreign destinations. It removes obstacles that can often make international vacation planning complicated—you no longer need to worry about visas, customs, transportation, or language barriers. Cruises also offer seamless transportation from the ship to your destination, and English-speaking tour guides are always available on excursions. While cruising may be a bit less authentic than traveling on your own, its perks more than make up for it—especially for those who wouldn’t otherwise have the time or budget visit certain places.
7. You'll See More of the World
Why choose just one city on your bucket list? Cruising allows you to visit several destinations in one trip, albeit for a shorter period of time. While we’re not suggesting that you’ll have enough time to do everything during your limited stay, you can experience a taste, allowing you to make informed decisions of where you would like to return to for a longer period of time.Cruises today offer a wide selection of locations around the world including India, Vietnam, Russia, South Africa, and the Seychelles. Crystal Cruises, Princess Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises offer some of the best extended voyages, including unique trips from Africa to Asia as well as Africa to India. Because Azamara Club Cruises don’t repeat itineraries, the company allows cruisers to continue aboard the same ship.
Katie Lara is a freelance travel journalist and video host based in New York City. In addition to Fodor's, her writing and photographs have appeared in U.S. News and World Report, The Huffington Post, Forbesand Fox News. Keep up with Katie's adventures on her travel blogTravelingpanties, Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.